Barcelona: Al-Ittihad push for Jules Koundé

Al-Ittihad are looking for a centre-back in the market and Jules Koundé is one of their top targets. As reported by Marca, the Arab side are serious about their interest and have even enquired about the Frenchman’s price. He is on their list of signings as they are planning the arrival of a top-class centre-back and have the money to afford the operation as long as an agreement can be reached with Barça and the player.

The aim is to sign a guaranteed centre-back and they believe that Koundé could have a big impact on the team. Al-Ittihad are very clear that there is a favourable scenario to be able to convince Barça due to the surplus of centre-backs in the Blaugrana squad. As of today, Flick has Iñigo Martínez, Koundé, Araujo, Christensen and Cubarsí at his disposal.

To these must be added two players who have returned from their loans (Eric Garcia and Lenglet) and the unknown Mika Faye, a player who should start pre-season with the first team. In total, there are eight players, which is why Barça itself could see it as a good opportunity to cash in on one of them and alleviate the club’s financial situation.

Koundé’s case is somewhat more complex, as, despite being considered a centre-back, it is as a right-back that he has had continuity at Barça. In addition, Flick feels comfortable playing with one more attacking and one more defensive full-back. In this sense, Koundé’s characteristics would fit in as a full-back for Flick, but the club’s financial situation means that they may have to make a painful sale.

First contact

For the time being, there have already been initial talks between Barça and Al-Ittihad about the Frenchman, but negotiations cannot be spoken of yet. Koundé is currently on international duty with France and will have a lot to say about his future.

The player himself has acknowledged on several occasions that he prefers to play as a centre-back and it remains to be seen what his intentions are. Barça paid 50 million euros fixed, plus another five in variables for the Frenchman. At just 25 years old, Koundé still has the best years of his career ahead of him and is under contract until 2027, but last summer he already hinted at an exit due to his desire to play more minutes in his natural position. Barça do not have him on the list of untransferables, so anything could happen if an offer arrives that benefits all parties.

Another player that Al Ittihad are reportedly interested in is Christensen. The centre-back has had minutes under Xavi both in defence and in midfield and, in principle, wants to stay at the Blaugrana club. He arrived on a free transfer, so his sale would generate considerable profits. He was already on Newcastle’s radar, but did not make the move, and now it remains to be seen if he is one of those who will be sacrificed. Christensen is on the Saudi club’s list alongside Koundé. They like Araujo a lot, but at the moment they see the Uruguayan as an impossible target.

Christensen’s case is curious because the first person who wanted to bring him to Barça was Ramon Planes on loan from Chelsea in a winter transfer window. The same Planes is now the sporting director of Al Ittihad and is a player he loves and considers to be top class as well. For now, they are looking at the most feasible options and Koundé and Christensen could be them with the right offer. It is a topic that can explode after the European Championship with total security.

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